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CIMF / Up late and worth the wait

Young Belgian pianist Bram De Looze. Photo: Peter Hislop

Canberra International Music Festival /  Jazz Up Late. At Smith’s Alternative, May 4. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Young Belgian pianist Bram De Looze is one of the latest sensations on the international jazz scene. This free-spirited musician, compared to Keith Jarrett, can really rock up a musical storm.

Snuggled into a sold-out Smith’s Alternative, CIMF artistic director Roland Peelman welcomed the audience, including the Belgium ambassador, to a performer the festival had been trying to get for some time.

Through his sensitive opening notes, reflective, flowing, somewhere lost in the distance of musical history, his sound sat just right for a jazz up-late gig. Jazz like this is hard to describe because it’s deeply personal. It’s not from a score or even the fingers, its flow. A flow of progressions from feeling to feeling, from modes to keys, from highs to lows and most things in between.

De Looze is a softly spoken performer. He talked about his “small ideas” that were the genesis for his compositions. He said his small ideas were gateways to extended material.

The next work sounded quite experimental. He was right. It comprised small ideas, motifs just a few notes long, which led to a whole connected composition. It was jazz improvisation told through extraordinary dexterity and a style all his own.

These were long jazz works; 15 minutes or more. It was as though he was searching for, and then finding, the right notes and the right motifs and phrases. But like most musicians, I guessed he knew what he was doing all along.

Was there beauty in it? Was it a conversation? Perhaps the latter. Maybe a musical chat with like-minded people. He spoke, we listened, it all worked out. There were no arguments, only a universal language. The language of jazz, social music as Miles Davis liked to say it was. It turned out to be a satisfying chat, well worth the wait.

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